Ending “ghost flights” would be one of the simplest ways to cut UK aviation CO2 – government not keen to help

The UK government has produced a (predictably bland, uninformative, unhelpful) response to the petition asking for an end to the slot use rules that encourage airlines to fly “ghost flights.” ie. empty planes or those with under 10% full.  During the worst periods of Covid, the 80:20 slot use rule was removed.  Now the rule is 70% use. That still has the effect of making airlines fly more planes than necessary, with a low load factor, just to hang onto the slot.  Data has now revealed that 15,000 ghost flights flew from UK airports between March 2020 and September 2021. Shockingly, in 2019, aviation accounted for 8% of all UK emissions, and it shows no sign of slowing soon. The global industry may be slowly improving its efficiency, by about 2% a year, but passenger growth still surges ahead. There is an urgent need to cut the CO2 from air travel, and that can only mean fewer flights. There are no amazing tech solutions that will reduce aviation emissions to any significant extent, for decades (if ever). The really “low hanging fruit” of cutting aviation emissions is not encouraging unnecessary flights that are almost empty. Ghost flights need to be ended. Fast.